This paper examines accounting in the social, political, and economic context within which it operates. Specifically, the farming sector in New Zealand provides the context for studying the history of standard-value accounting. This accounting practice emerged with the support of accountants, farmers, and the state as the tax regime in New Zealand slowly moved to an income tax for farmers from 1915. The paper examines how accounting became a practice of political arithmetic, mediating the economic power of the farmers with the rest of the tax base of New Zealand. Standard-value accounting for livestock became a device that represented the power of farmers to receive favorable tax treatment compared with other New Zealanders, while still demonstrating they carried their fair share of the country's tax burden.

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